le·​ver | \ ˈle-vər How to pronounce lever (audio) , ˈlē- How to pronounce lever (audio) \

Definition of lever

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a bar used for prying or dislodging something
b : an inducing or compelling force : tool use food as a political leverTime
2a : a rigid piece that transmits and modifies force or motion when forces are applied at two points and it turns about a third specifically : a rigid bar used to exert a pressure or sustain a weight at one point of its length by the application of a force at a second and turning at a third on a fulcrum
b : a projecting piece by which a mechanism (see mechanism sense 1) is operated or adjusted


levered; levering\ ˈle-​və-​riŋ How to pronounce levering (audio) , ˈlē-​ ; ˈlev-​riŋ , ˈlēv-​ \

Definition of lever (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to pry, raise, or move with or as if with a lever
2 : to operate (a device) in the manner of a lever

Illustration of lever

Illustration of lever


lever 2a

In the meaning defined above

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Synonyms for lever

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of lever in a Sentence

Noun They used their money as a lever to gain political power. Verb He levered the rock out of the hole. the workers used crowbars to lever the heavy stone block into its new position
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The first eight rows of the lower lever will be blocked off. Tyler Dragon, The Enquirer, "Here's what the Cincinnati Bengals are telling season-ticket members," 10 July 2020 That feature was necessary, Ford executives said, because the company's research had shown that F-150 owners much prefer a shift lever to the round knob found in most Ford cars and SUVs. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "Ford's powerful new F-150 offers fully reclining seats, a bottle opener, and a hybrid option," 25 June 2020 Just as the lever-action .30/30 is iconic in the North American whitetail woods, certain rifles and cartridges are African safari icons. Ron Spomer, Outdoor Life, "The Most Iconic Rifles and Cartridges from African Safaris," 11 June 2020 The gear shift lever can fold down flat when in Park to make room for the table. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "Ford's powerful new F-150 offers fully reclining seats, a bottle opener, and a hybrid option," 25 June 2020 Despite the Venture's strong 3.73:1 axle ratios, maintaining 80 mph on mild highway grades usually requires manually selecting fourth gear via the gated shift lever. Scott Oldham, Car and Driver, "2020 Toyota 4Runner Venture Welcomes the Open Trail," 22 June 2020 The chair has a seat lever to easily adjust your height, and has rollers on the bottom for easy mobility. Hanna Horvath, NBC News, "How to buy the best ergonomic office chair, according to experts," 18 June 2020 The smooth, flat surfaces, the heft of the cast iron and a steady lever ensure... Gabriella Gershenson, WSJ, "For the Best Tortillas at Home, You Need This," 12 June 2020 Many were skeptical in 2016 but could not bring themselves to pull the lever for Clinton. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Trump forced to defend red-leaning Ohio," 9 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb These potential environmental requirements will lever the airlines to operate new planes with higher levels of fuel economy sooner rather than later. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "6 reasons Boeing’s financial picture may be brighter than most assume," 20 June 2020 Not when there is fear to be exploited, cracks to lever into chasms. John Archibald | Jarchibald@al.com, al, "I thought I’d seen it all. Until Bradley Byrne," 29 Jan. 2020 That the president also levered Christine Lagarde, an economically doveish Frenchwoman, into the presidency of the European Central Bank also helps him. The Economist, "Emmanuel Macron’s long game," 26 Sep. 2019 The project involves replacing the door knobs and associated hardware of all the classroom doors with levered handles that can be locked from the inside, according to Don Aicardi, the school district’s director of finance and operations. BostonGlobe.com, "Medway elementary school upgrades safety with new grant - The Boston Globe," 6 Nov. 2019 The next morning, a dentist levered my teeth back into place with a tongue depressor and cemented them in line. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, "My Year of Concussions," 4 Nov. 2019 Everyone could borrow to trade, levering up as much as 10-to-1. Washington Post, "Relax. China Only Wants a Bull Market, Not a Mad Cow," 18 Sep. 2019 If the tactic of threatening no-deal to lever concessions out of the EU has failed, so have attempts to bully MPs. The Economist, "A tumultuous week for Boris Johnson suggests an election is on the cards," 5 Sep. 2019 The grooves could have allowed the builders to lower the stones onto the walls, roll them into place using rollers, lever them up to remove the rollers, then extract the ropes from under the blocks without lifting them back up. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The Ancient Greeks Used Machines to Lift Stones 150 Years Earlier Than Previously Believed," 29 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lever.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lever


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1876, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lever

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French levier, lever, from lever to raise, from Latin levare, from levis light in weight — more at light

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Time Traveler for lever

Time Traveler

The first known use of lever was in the 14th century

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Statistics for lever

Last Updated

24 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lever.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lever. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for lever


How to pronounce lever (audio) How to pronounce lever (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of lever

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a strong bar that is used to lift and move something heavy
: a bar or rod that is used to operate or adjust something on a machine, vehicle, device, etc.
: something used to achieve a desired result



English Language Learners Definition of lever (Entry 2 of 2)

: to lift or move (something) with a lever


le·​ver | \ ˈle-vər How to pronounce lever (audio) , ˈlē- \

Kids Definition of lever

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a bar used to pry or move something
2 : a stiff bar for lifting a weight at one point of its length by pressing or pulling at a second point while the bar turns on a support
3 : a bar or rod used to run or adjust something a gearshift lever


levered; levering

Kids Definition of lever (Entry 2 of 2)

: to raise or move with a bar

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More from Merriam-Webster on lever

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lever

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lever

Spanish Central: Translation of lever

Nglish: Translation of lever for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lever for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about lever

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